Friday, January 13, 2017

Standing Rock: The view from 2 women who attended Oceti Sakowin Camp

Singer-Songwriter Aliza Hava and Scholar and Operations Manager for the Dominican University School of the Arts and Humanities, Keiko Ehret, tell .us about Standing Rock and their adventures at the camp. This interview is not what you expect- it will startle you from another view.


Photo Credit Adam Alexander Johannson

This is destined to become an iconic photo of an iconic event

“Standing Rock” refers to Camp Oceti Sakowin, an encampment of water protectors from the Dakota and Lacota Sioux Nations near Lake Oahe along the Missouri River.

The water protectors are exercising their first amendment right to peacefully assemble to protest the building of a new Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) that is routed under the Missouri River.

The Missouri River Basin supplies water to millions of people and an oil spill would affect everyone downstream.  Energy Transfer Partners had to reroute the original pipeline because it came too close to Bismarck and the predominately white residents there objected.

The Sioux Tribes filed a lawsuit alleging the Army Corps of Engineers violated several U.S. Laws treaty provisions when they gave DAPL an easement to build on federal land and land that would endanger sacred sites on the Sioux Reservation.

Standing Rock is an unparalleled historic event...
including the largest coming together of Indian Nations in cooperation and allegiance since Little Big Horn—than 300 nations gathered there in support of protecting water. Allies came from all over the world and the United Nations denounced the tactics used against peaceful prayerful people protecting their land and water. American Veterans also joined in solidarity as well as Indigenous from around the globe.

Police, pipeline security and a hired division of Blackwater used water cannons, fire hoses, tear gas, rubber bullets and concussion grenades to intimidate the protectors in violation of their constitutional right to peacefully assemble in protest.

Others who gathered in solidarity came from Nature Herself—a herd of buffalo that spontaneously showed up, eagles, and geese who flew over at the moment of victory as the word came that the pipeline would be suspended.

This single event of Standing Rock and peoples standing up for their rights became a rallying cry, a model for prolonged peaceful protest, and a flashpoint for the environmental movement.


The speakers on the podcast program were Aliza Hava and Keiko Ehret from the San Francisco Bay area of California. Aliza is a singer-songwriter, bandleader for Eve of Eden Folk Rock Band and activist who worked in Israel/Palestine as a musical peace activist; Keiko is Director of Operations for the School of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the Dominican University.

Interviewer Barbara Kaufmann is staff and Lead Volunteer for the Arts Sector for the Charter for Compassion International and is herself and activist, artist, writer and journalist. She has written for magazines, newspapers, blogs and The Huffington Post and is the Founder and Steward for “Words and Violence” a publication now in its 4th edition—a program about bullying in all its incarnations including in the last edition, how we bully the planet.

Story and podcast created for the Charter for Compassion International courtesy of Walking Moon Studios- people who tell story about fierce compassion in images.

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A few Thoughts...

When I think about it, my own life is no less rich and the living no less inspiring than my pioneering ancestors and I come from a long line of Indians and outlaws so don't ever turn your back on me!

Life is, after all, a slice of human consciousness lived from its place in human evolution. "From here to eternity" as it were-- from earth to the stars, from personal space to cyberspace, from a small local footprint to the world reduced to the size of a notebook and sitting on your lap!

As a child I lived with the perpetual and immenent threat of annihilation. That's child abuse! It wasn't a kid-friendly world and I couldn't understand why the grown-ups who were in charge weren't doing something?

So at age seven with my face in the window eyes turned up into the night sky and staring at the stars I made a vow: "When I am a grown-up, I will do something."

My writing is that something and I write to "simply change the world." If that sounds like a lack of humility it isn't because I know that one person absolutely can change the world and I've met some who have.

Kay Kennedy put together an anthology that puts the reader in the midst of history to view it from the inside out.

When I was in high school and even college, history classes were stale and boring featuring memorization and regurgitation of dates that coincided with events that had no human face, certainly no magic, and no life!

Anthologies are great fun and stores are rich remembrances. History books chronicle; stories are little narrative slices of living. History comes alive through story. I often think of my grandmother and her story, her life-- the history she lived. In her lifetime she saw humankind evolve from horse and buggy to man on the moon.

I was a sixties kid and for the youth of the sixties, turmoil, disillusionment, and revolution were everyday 'business as usual'. Like a radio perpetually on low volume, fear and death dronned on in the background. The superpowers threatened to extinguish all life on the planet, the Vietnam War was escalating and peers were being escorted home under American Flag blankets. The civil rights and equal rights movements were testing human civility, and faster than one could recover from one shock another real life hero would fall to yet another assassin. Despair was commonplace. Contrast that with a man on the moon... we could conquer space travel but couldn't make nukes or war obsolete! It was a time when youth needed hope because hope was scarce. When it was finally resurrected, it came in the form of idealism and a philosophy of brotherly and universal love. Perfect principles; imperfect execution.

For others who contributed to "Looking Back," the history is different for each because the "times" were different as well as the perspective of the individuals. The stories of human societal evolution are enlightening, heartwarming, poignant and spellbinding. They put a human face on the past.

And there are people now who are putting a face on the future...